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Psychoanalyzed By a Student

Oh word, but if I’d known what yesterday would bring, I think I would have stayed home with the covers pulled over my head.

It started off with a 7am parent conference.  I rushed out early and guess what?  The parent did not show.  Her son met me at my door and told me that his mom had woken up with a fever.

Sigh.

Then, first period rolled around and the class that I love so much forgot their manners.

One young man in particular has been walking on edge for several days, and I haven’t been able to figure out why.  I’ve been very cautious and have tried hard not to be the thing that pushes him over.  As a result, I have put up with a few things that I probably shouldn’t have.

Today, I just could not ignore the disruptive behavior any more, so I decided we needed space from each other.

He spent the day in in-school suspension.

That was not a good way to begin the day.

My next two classes came in, and something similar happened in each of them, with a student being removed/leaving from each of those classes.

Sigh.

Teaching can be very challenging.  As a teacher, you have to try to work things out in the classroom; however, sometimes bad/disrespectful/disruptive behavior continues to the point where the learning process is severely hampered, and other students are affected.

Needless to say, it was not an easy day.

Despite all of that, I did not find myself in tears.

Surprise, surprise.

I cried half of my first and second years teaching.

Maybe I’m growing up.

😀

What I wanted to share the most, though, was something funny that happened in the middle of the day.

Remember the first student I told you about?

Well, after first period, I went to Barbara’s office to get some feedback about the way I’d handled a quiz and how the rest of my day’s lesson plans should be tweaked.

Before I could say a word, Barb stopped me.

She had her own story to tell.

My student had paid her a visit while on a potty break.  Her office is across from ISD.

He walked in and immediately began complaining.

He then proceeded to tell her that there was something wrong with me…that I wasn’t acting right.

She laughed as she continued to tell me the story.

She assured him that everything seemed okay with me.

“Naw,” he said.  “You don’t understand.  Something is really wrong with her.  She’s got a personal problem that’s so deep she can’t tell even her best friend.”

Hmmm.

As Barb told me this story, I couldn’t help but find it ironic that my student was expressing some of the same concerns that I had been expressing about him, only he couldn’t use the same logic on himself.

Barb and I got a real kick out of the whole thing, and every time I saw Barb later that day, she would laugh.

In fact, when I was walking back to my classroom during lunch, I ran into her, the principal, and my friend, Maegan.

My face must have looked exactly like I was feeling…a bit overwhelmed.

Mr. Principal looked at me quizzically.

I responded by saying, “Don’t mind me.  I’m just mulling over the fact that I’ve got some deep personal problem that I don’t even know about.”

Barb started cackling, and she told him the story.

Lord have mercy.

Of course, I didn’t feel any better when, upon arriving home and telling the story to the Mr., he responded by saying, “I’ve been telling you for years that you have a problem.  That’s nothing new!”

Sheesh.

So, if you need me, I’ll be in the padded white room…trying to reach into the furthest recesses of my mind to uncover the mysterious “problem” the student diagnosed me as having.

Super Bowl Hodgepodge

Wednesday really rolls around quickly some weeks, does it not?  The theme this week is all about sports and such.  Hmmm…wonder why?  LOL!  Play along by posting your link on Joyce’s blog.  I look forward to visiting to read your answers!

1.  In the USA this coming Sunday millions will be watching as the Baltimore Ravens take on the San Francisco 49’s in the Superbowl.  What was the last event you attended that could be described as super?

Well, I’d like to think that any place I attend is “super” simply because of my presence there, but that would be a tad self-centered, eh?  heehee

I think that the last event I attended that was spectacular was two summers ago when we had a weekend-long Christian concert series ON my local beach.

It was AMAZING to be worshiping the Lord with thousands of other believers with famous acts such as Amy Grant, Point of Grace, Chris Tomlin, and Michael W. Smith leading the music.

Please notice that he was singing right to me!

2.  Share something you’re a fan of these days?

Right now, I am a fan of my high school’s football coach who comes to my classroom and sits there to show his players that their academic success is more important than their success on the field.  To know that I can send the coach an email when I’m concerned about one of my kids, who happens to also be one of his players, and he responds immediately…well, I’m the coach’s #1 fan these days.  His wife is pretty cool too!

3.  How do you feel about wings?  In case anyone is confused, I’m talking the edible appetizer kind.  What’s your preferred seasoning on a wing-hot, mild, teryiaki, sweet and sour, other?  Do you make your own or is there a favorite place you like to go for wings?

I’m a vegan now…have been for over two years…but when I ate wings, I ate them in great quantity and preferred them hot and wet, dipped in Ranch dressing.  Beef O’Brady’s is our preferred restaurant of choice, although I usually get veggie wraps now.

4.  As long as we’re talking sports today…have you followed the Lance Armstrong story?  Did you watch his interview with Oprah and if so what was your reaction to his confession and subsequent remarks?

I did not watch the interview, but I will say that I am extremely disappointed.  I was duped, along with most of America.  I read his autobiography years ago and was very inspired by his courage.  I think he let the entire world down…a world that is always looking for a hero.  I don’t know how sincere he was in his confession.  That is not for me to judge.  I think he’s paying the ultimate price by losing the respect of his peers as well as his children.  I doubt that he will ever be able to overcome the stigma of being a huge fake.

5.  What’s a question you hate to be asked?

I cannot limit this to just one question.  Both are teacher-related.

Question:  What are we doing today?
Answer:  Learning

Question:  Can we have a chill day?
Answer:  In the summer, after school lets out.

6.  The coaches in this Sunday’s big game happen to be real life brothers.  Jim Harbaugh coaches the 49er’s and his older brother John Harbaugh coaches the Baltimore Ravens.  Were you and your sibling(s) competitive?  In what way? Are you still?  If you’re an only child how did you handle competition growing up?

I’d like to think that Super Sis and I were not competitive.  She is three years younger, my mom’s favorite, and was always pretty (I was not).  She had boyfriends (hers were way cuter than mine) and seemed to have her act together.  Did we compete, though?  I don’t think so.  I’m sure I was probably a little jealous at times, but I tried my best to take care of her…protect her…because I had been doing that from the time we were very, very little.  I’m so grateful that she and I are close.  She’s the ONLY person who truly understands the “issues” I still struggle with…stuff that came from years of, quite honestly, “crap.”  I love her so much.

7.  What’s your favorite game involving a ball and when did you last play?

I love so many sports.  I’d say that my favorite is soccer because my children have played since they were young.  Chicky just started her final Spring training at Southeastern.  I can’t believe how quickly the years have flown by!

As for me playing?  Well, I’m not a gifted athlete.  I tried my hand at tennis and stunk.  I enjoy bowling, but gutter balls are the norm for me.  I last “officially” played a sport with a ball in high school.  I was on the basketball team and was a bench warmer.  I came in when were winning big or losing bad.

8.  My Random Thought

My friend, Barb, who comments on my blog with the nickname “Dinosaur” won Teacher of the Year for my district a few years ago.

Today, her husband will be observed by the “Powers that Be” because he has made it to the top five teachers in the running for Teacher of the Year.

Yes.

Two teachers…married to each other…amazing teachers.

He teaches math.

I spent a couple of hours at their house the evening before I took my General Knowledge Test to get my teaching certificate.

I was and still am petrified of math.

I had cried all day before I’d gotten there, and I took a huge wad of kleenex with me to their house.

He patiently helped me work through problems in my study guide, allowing me to cry when I felt overwhelmed.

I passed that test thanks to his patience and the box of kleenex I went through.

Please say a prayer for him.

He’s a guy and seems to be taking it in stride, but I know he’d appreciate your whispered prayers.

Thanks a bunch!

Like I Needed That

Oh word, but really?

Yeah.

I uttered that phrase, in my head and out loud, yesterday afternoon.

But first, a quick bit of history to catch you up.

Oh, who am I kidding?

I’m not quick at anything…getting ready in the morning…lesson planning…telling stories.

Anyhoo…

Last week, I finally got my car back.

I was so happy!

Everything ran fine.

And then…

I went to get in my car that afternoon…

And I discovered that my driver side door wouldn’t open.

I double clicked (I’m a computer nerd) the unlock button on my key fob and heard the doors unlock.

Still, the door wouldn’t open!

I tried inserting the key into the lock and turning.

Guess what?

It opened.

It would seem that the three passenger doors and the back hatch will unlock remotely, but the driver side door will not.

Great.

Just my luck.

I called, and the technician assured me that the remotes needed to be reprogrammed…that the new battery must have messed things up.

Strange, I thought, that only one door won’t work, but whatever.

Meanwhile…

After I started the car, I noticed something else.

The air pressure light flashed off and on for over a minute before going off for good.

What was up?

When the weather gets cold, the light comes on and stays on for a few minutes when I start the car late at night, but I have learned that the reason is that the air in the tires condenses and affects the air pressure.  As soon as things heat up, the light goes off.

Look at me and my big, bad science self.

😀

The light, however, is always SOLID.

Not this time.

Grrr.

I took the car into the shop yesterday afternoon after being assured that it would only take thirty minutes to fix the remotes (I took both with me).

Yeah.

Right.

An hour later, my car was done.

Or was it?

The technician came over and told me that, “Yeah, something is broken in the door, and we’re going to have to order parts.”

Oh hello?

Really?

Now, let me explain something to you.

I am the girl who is the original He-Woman Hear Me Roar and Watch Me Fix My Own Stuff.

BUT…

I.

Don’t.

Do.

Cars.

That’s what the Mr. is for.

I’m also not very quick on my feet as far as thinking and quick responses go, except in a classroom when a student is trying to escape because he doesn’t want to give up his cell phone.

Have I told that story?

Sounds like something for another day.

But I digress, as usual.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah.

The broken parts in the door.

I was peeved.

I told the guy, “I brought this car in for engine problems.  The door was FINE when I brought it in.  EVERYTHING unlocked properly.  Did you take the door panel off for anything?”

He told me that it was a mechanical issue.

Um, no, it isn’t.

I don’t know cars, but I know how things are put together, in a basic way, and the stupid thing unlocks when I mechanically stick the key in.

It’s an issue with the programming.

How do I know this?

Because they messed with the wiring to fix other sensors that they told us were not “firing” correctly.

Yeah.

I do pay attention to a few things the Mr. tells me.

😉

So the guy tells me, “Don’t worry.  We’ll work something out.  I know how much money you’ve already spent.”

Oh yeah?  Really?

Gee.  You really made me feel better.

But the story isn’t finished.

Then, I asked about the tire pressure light.

He said, “Yeah, it looks like a sensor isn’t working right.  We’re going to order more parts.  Don’t worry.  We’ll work something out.”

Oh man.

I think my head started spinning.

As in Exorcist spinning.

No, seriously, it really did.

By this point, I was overwhelmed.

Not only had I been suffering the effects of pollen in January…stuffy nose and clogged sinuses…but this person was daring to tell me that the stupid thing he’d been tasked with fixing in the first place was now causing a different problem and that he was ordering parts to fix it?

Seriously?

I think I got mad, and I think he knew it.

I told him that since the place had also replaced my front brakes, it was indeed possible that THEY had caused the sensor issue, which had not been an issue to begin with since the stupid light had not been flashing before I took the car in!

Oy.

The guy tried to explain that, “Yeah.  It’s been a Monday, and I’m overwhelmed too, and we’ll work something out since you’re such good customers.”

Walk away, Nathalie, walk away.

I should have.

Instead, I told the guy that I could understand how they could find more parts that needed to be fixed under the hood, but the door and extra sensors…those were not part of the original problem.

Grrr.

He finally told me that he’d call me when he knew more about the parts.

To which I responded that he better call the Mr. because I did not have the energy to deal with it.

I promise that I was very nice.

I think.

I did not cuss.

I don’t do that kind of stuff.

In public.

Usually that’s only in my head.

Usually.

It wasn’t even in my head today.

Yay me.

<insert sarcastic smile>

And now for the word I’m focusing on this year…

RELAX.

Yeah.

Right.

Twizzle Straws

I was at the gas station the other day…making a Mt Dew run.

Before you say anything, yes, I have fallen off the wagon.

Don’t say a word.

I’m a work in progress, People, a work in progress!

Plus, last week had its rough spots.

So anyhow, Cheryl, the friendly cashier at the gas station, told me, “You know, you can use those Twizzlers as straws for your drink.”

I was astounded!

She explained that you have to bite off both ends of a Twizzler before being able to drink.

Please tell me you didn’t already know this, or else I’ll feel really dumb.

When she finished explaining, I told her that this sounded like a great idea for my blog.

You should have seen her face.

She smiled really big and turned around and told another girl she was working with that I was going to blog about her.

Then she pointed to her name tag so I wouldn’t forget her name.

I had to chuckle.

It’s too bad I’ve only got a couple of people or so who read the stuff I post.  I’m thinking maybe she thought she was going to be famous or something.

😀

Anyhoo…

I couldn’t wait to get back home and try out her suggestion…

My opinion?

It.

Was.

Strange.

The fizziness of the drink felt strange and tasted weird.

Cheryl had also mentioned that I should try it with the Sour Straws.

Maybe next time.

For now, I think I’ll drink my Mt Dew straight up, thank you very much.

Or rather, I think I’ll be going on the wagon again.

I’m not fond of letting things such as food or drink control me (a big reason why I enjoy doing juice fasts once or twice a year).

What’s something “different” that you like, I wonder?

Every Story Has a Beginning

Yesterday, I attended a reading conference that was held in Podunk, USA.

It’s an annual event that local teachers and others from surrounding counties look forward to each year.

There are lots of workshops to choose from…lots of experts in education ready to share and inspire attendees.

This year’s keynote speaker was Janet Stevens.  She’s an artist as well as a children’s book writer.

I’ll admit that I found her rather odd, at first.

She spoke in a strange voice.

It’s one that can only be described as the kind of voice kindergarten and first grade teachers use when they read.

But she was talking to adults.

I wasn’t exactly sure what her message was supposed to be…at first.

And then, I realized, as she took us through some of her books, annotating along the way, that she was explaining how she got ideas for her stories.

Then, I sat…completely enthralled…as she demonstrated how she took one simple thing, be it her sister’s blue dress, which she got as a hand-me-down, or a tennis ball that her dog dropped down a gopher hole…and created an entire book based on that object.

I got chills as I listened.

Why?

Because that is what I do as a blogger, although not nearly as well as Ms. Stevens.

The longer a person blogs, the more time that person spends thinking about what to write about.

Bloggers find inspiration in the smallest details of life and create stories…life lessons…around those details.

The artwork we include with our stories are the seemingly-random pictures we take throughout the day.

We never know what we’ll be writing about.  Often, our posts begin with a moment that we’ve captured in a photo.

Ms. Stevens truly inspired me.

I’d love to write a book one day.

For now, I’m satisfied with writing on this blog of mine.

Maybe one day a book will come forth from this keyboarding fingers of mine.

We.

Shall.

See.

Lessons From the Week

Oh my word.

What.

A.

Week.

Last week, we had semester exams.

This was a short week with Monday’s holiday.

The.

Kids.

Were.

Nuts.

Adjusting to different routines two weeks in a row proved difficult for my students.

We persevered, and in the process, I learned quite a few lessons.

Lesson #1

Be flexible…especially when there are changes in the works that you don’t have control of.

I’d planned quite a few things for Tuesday.  During my first class, I realized that there was no way we were going to get through everything, so I quickly adjusted and pushed the rest of the week’s lesson plans back.

This simple act freed all of us from the stress of trying to squeeze too many things into one day.

Lesson #2

Just because a class has a lot of behavior issues does not mean that the class cannot act as good as if not better than the “good” classes.

I learned this lesson on Tuesday.  I had changed my students’ assigned seats, and I was shocked when my first two classes (especially the most laid-back…my first period class) loudly resisted!

I dreaded that last class coming in and finding out what I’d planned.

To my surprise, they took the news the best and quietly moved to their new seats.

That is not to say that they liked their new seats.  I’d purposely placed people next to others who would “discourage” them from talking.

I gave them props, though, for stepping up to the plate.

Lesson #3

Kids love to perform.

I am currently teaching my students how to make inferences.  This is one of the most difficult reading skills for students to master.

I’d found a fun lesson plan idea.  Students first read a conversation (something I found online and cannot find a link to…comment on this post and I’ll email it to you) to themselves.  Then, I had them read the conversation aloud, taking turns reading the lines with their shoulder partners.

Before we did the partner practice, I modeled it for my students, using a volunteer to help me out.  I pointed out important clues like punctuation marks, turning this lesson into fluency practice as well.

When it was my students’ turn to do the partner reading, I walked around and listened.

I.

Was.

Amazed.

The kids were a little embarrassed at first, but they gained confidence and really got into their characters.

They read with a lot of expression, and I heard a lot of giggles…even from the boys.

I don’t know why, but it was only during my second class when I got the idea to ask a pair to volunteer to stand up and read the conversation for the class.

Two of my girls in fourth period got up, and oh goodness, what a show they put on!!!

Their delivery was PERFECT!

They had all of us nearly falling out of our chairs as we laughed with them.

We loved it so much that they performed it a second time.

During sixth period, the students who argue the loudest about class assignments had the most fun.  Some of the kids expressed displeasure when paired with their shoulder partners, but all was forgotten as the exercise continued.

Two of my students performed in front of the class, and everyone had fun.

Lesson #4

Don’t hesitate to call parents.  Although you might think a parent isn’t involved, a phone call usually proves this to be a false assumption.

I spoke with two mamas this week, and they were extremely grateful for the calls I made.  Talking to them gave me insight into their children’s disruptive behavior in my classroom and led me to empathize with the kids for the various things they are dealing with outside of my classroom.

I think that as the school year continues, teachers are less apt to call parents and rely more heavily on the discipline referral system…as an easier “fix.”

As Fred Jones likes to say, if the problem doesn’t get fixed within your classroom, it’s probably not going to get fixed.

Lesson #5

Lecturing students on misbehavior is pointless.

I watched a female student of mine completely shut down while I was trying to give her a “pep talk.”

I stopped the talk immediately and asked her what was going through her mind.

She told me that she hates lectures.

That’s how she viewed the conversation.

I apologized quickly.

I was reminded that I need to do less talking.

Lesson #6

Ask students more questions.

This is a lesson I’m learning from my mentor.

Every time I go to her with anything, be it a problem or celebration, she always asks a thought-provoking question, never allowing me to completely remain comfortable where I’m at but always challenging me to take my thinking and application to the next level.

THIS is what I need to do for my students.

If we, as teachers, are doing all of the talking, we’re merely spoon-feeding information to kids.

It’s information they don’t take ownership of because they have no part in creating it.

Asking questions does the same things for students that it does when my mentor asks them of me.

Questions require me to create answers, but I can’t create answers until I reflect.

How I answer is going to differ from how another person will answer because my life experiences are unique.

Such it is with the students I teach.

I need to ask more questions.

Lesson #7

Collaboration between teachers is a MUST if our children are going to succeed.

I’m not just talking about collaboration between teachers in the same department.

I think there needs to be more collaboration between teachers of different departments.

I’m currently working with a social studies teacher.  For our annual review (mine is actually a two-step process since I’m still a newbie teacher), we decided to work on vocabulary strategies for a select group of students that we share.

It’s been an interesting process, and the path hasn’t always been super clear.

This week, we made some firm plans that I am excited about.  I am going to look ahead at her textbook and incorporate informational text that contains supplemental topic material to support the content she’s teaching in her classroom.  I’m going to teach my students comprehension strategies so that they will understand the text I’m presenting to them.  The goal is that they will carry these strategies to her classroom.  She’ll follow up by using the same strategies in her room but with the textbook material.

This teacher came into my room yesterday because she needed assistance with something.  She came a little too early…before my class was over…so she got to watch while I taught my students.  She then participated in literacy stations, playing a main idea game with one of my groups.

Although her presence in my room was not exactly planned, it was a blessing.  She’s now armed with knowledge of how my classroom runs and the kind of language I employ when teaching strategies to my kids.

This can only reap good results…as in students who will be more successful as readers.  I am very, very excited!

Lesson #8

There is no room for drama in the classroom or anywhere else on campus, for that matter.

I know I teach teenagers.

I know they are all about the drama.

The drama stops at my door.

The same goes for adult drama.

This week, I discovered that I cannot do drama.

I had two days of it.

The first day was mostly my fault when I read more into something than I should have.

The second day was NOT my fault, but it affected me deeply and will probably continue to affect me for a little while.

While I cannot avoid the fallout from the second drama, I am not going to allow myself to be sucked in deeper by it.

My priority in my profession is the student body…those youngsters who walk onto campus each day.

They need me to be focused on THEIR needs and nothing else.

Drama puts the focus where it shouldn’t be, and I’m done with that.

I didn’t like what it turned me into…a person whose stomach and throat hurt because I knew in my soul that it wasn’t right, nor was my reaction to it.

How can I ever expect the students I teach to steer clear of drama if I don’t do it myself.

Lesson #9

I love what I do so much.

Although teaching has its ups and downs, I love it.

This is a lesson I learned my first year of teaching, but I felt the need to include it on this list because even when I’m having a bad day, I’ll be reminded by a student’s random comment or kind gesture that I am making a difference in my students’ lives.

Lesson #10

Sometimes, after a roller coaster week, you’ve got to cut yourself some slack and be bad.

This was my answer to the week.

Booya!

How Easily We Forget

So, I’ve been blogging a lot lately about my “word” for the year…RELAX.

I’ve really been doing a good job too.

For all of three weeks.

And then Wednesday happened.

Oh.

My.

Word.

Something happened that led to me reading more into something that led to me getting upset that led into me getting angry.

The day spiraled downward until I left work frustrated and exhausted.

Ever the reflective one, I quickly began thinking about what had gone wrong.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I had made much over something that, in reality, wasn’t much.

Isn’t that the case…especially where women’s hearts are concerned?

We think more with our emotions and less with our brains.

Yeah.

I’m disappointed; however, I am going to cut myself some slack.

Change comes about over time.

It is a process.

It is a journey in which we take a few steps forward, pat ourselves on the back for a job well done, and then are humbled when we fall flat on our rear ends when we experience setbacks.

By the time I got home, I’d posted the following update on Facebook:

I forgot my mantra to relax. My day wasn’t the best. Lesson learned. I am hereby relaxing and not worrying again.

I know I’m kidding myself a little.

I know I’ll worry about something…I probably already have between the time I composed this post and the time when you’re reading it.

Still, I continue to remind myself that I need to be purposeful and daily make the choice to RELAX and trust God.

I’m so grateful that He is a loving God who forgives.

I need to learn from His example and be forgiving of myself.

This is another process and one that I am starting to make head roads in.

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